Financial Independence Spreadsheet

This page explains how to use my personal financial independence spreadsheet.

If you haven’t already downloaded the spreadsheet, click here to get instant access!

Balances Tab

The first tab in the spreadsheet is where you record your monthly account balances.

Financial Independence Spreadsheet - Balances Tab

Luckily, this step is easy because Personal Capital aggregates all of your accounts for you.

Personal Capital Dashboard

If you don’t have a Personal Capital account, you can sign up for free here. It’s the best tool I’ve found for managing a portfolio so I highly recommend it.

For this step, copy the previous month’s column in the spreadsheet, change the column header to the current date, and then populate the fields that have a blue background with the latest data from Personal Capital.

Note: You should only update the cells that have a blue background because all other fields have formulas and will update automatically.

In addition to computing your total account balances, this tab also shows how much of your money is liquid (i.e. you could access within a few days, if necessary) vs. illiquid (i.e. money that is harder to get at, like money in your 401(k), your home equity, etc.).

Investments Tab

The Investments tab uses the values in the Balances tab to provide a picture of where your money is located and what you’re invested in.

Financial Independence Spreadsheet - Investments Tab

This is where you can keep track of how much of your HSA you can withdraw (see this post for how I use my HSA as an investment account) and how much money you’ve contributed to your Roth IRA (which can also be withdrawn at any time). These are the only two values that you need to update on this tab because everything else is calculated automatically.

The Investments tab computes the totals in each type of investment account (e.g. taxable, tax deferred, etc.), each type of investment (e.g. real estate, small cap, etc.), and the total amounts available before and after standard retirement age.

Net Worth Tab

The Net Worth tab provides a summary of your assets and liabilities, using the data from the Balances tab.

Financial Independence Spreadsheet - Net Worth Tab

There’s no extra information you need to add on this tab so simply copy the previous month’s column and update the date at the top.

Averages Tab

The Averages tab is where you record your monthly spending.

This step is really important because you can’t determine if you’re financially independent without knowing how much you spend every year.

Financial Independence Spreadsheet - Averages Tab

To make this step easier, I use Mint.com to categorize my monthly expenses.

You could do the same thing with Personal Capital but since I started using Mint before Personal Capital came out, I’ve just continued using it for this purpose.

There are a few interesting computations that occur on this tab that are worth explaining…

  • Necessary Coverage – This row shows what percentage of your essential monthly expenses are covered by your portfolio, using the withdrawal rate set on the FI tab.
  • Discretionary Coverage – This row shows what percentage of your discretionary expenses are covered by your supplemental income for the month.
  • Total Coverage – This row shows what percentage of your monthly expenses are covered by your portfolio and your supplementary income. When this column is consistently over 100%, you’re financially independent!
  • Required Drawdown – This row shows what percentage of your portfolio you’d need to withdraw every year to sustain your monthly spending (based on the current month’s spending). Once this value is consistently lower than a drawdown percentage you’re comfortable with, you’re financially independent!
  • After-Tax Savings Rate – This row computes your after-tax savings rate. Keep increasing this value and you’ll be FI in no time :)

FI Tab

The FI tab is the final tab in the spreadsheet and also the most important.

Here, your monthly expenses are annualized and your FI number is calculated based on those expenses.

Financial Independence Spreadsheet - FI Tab

On this tab, you have to update the Withdrawal Rate and Growth Rate assumptions once but then you’ll never have to update anything again.

The FI tab is great for motivating you to lower your expenses. When you see that it will take an extra 1.2 years of work to permanently fund your expensive cable TV package, you’ll be more likely to decrease that expense or eliminate it completely.

Questions/Suggestions

I hope you get as much use out of this spreadsheet as I have.

If you have any questions or suggestions on how to improve the spreadsheet, please leave a comment below.

FI Laboratory

And if you want to easily chart out your progress to financial independence, check out the FI Laboratory software I developed!

90 comments for “Financial Independence Spreadsheet

  1. Kaizer Douken
    January 26, 2015 at 11:55 am

    This is golden. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • The Mad Fientist
      January 26, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      My pleasure! Hope you find it useful

    • Sondra
      August 22, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Hello,

      This is wonderful. Job well done. Question please: Why is there no $$ allocation for cost of groceries, car insurance, gasoline & car on your final F1 sheet? It appears some numbers may not have transcribed correctly from the averages sheet to the F1 sheet. For example: Home insurance you have as $0 on the averages sheet (with the line below it as property tax for $273), but on the F1 sheet you have Home insurance as $273. The numbers should be the same from the sheets yes?

      • Chris, California
        February 20, 2017 at 8:00 pm

        So, what is the response to Sondra’s question?
        August 22, 2016 at 2:19 pm
        Hello,
        This is wonderful. Job well done. Question please: Why is there no $$ allocation for cost of groceries, car insurance, gasoline & car on your final F1 sheet? It appears some numbers may not have transcribed correctly from the averages sheet to the F1 sheet. For example: Home insurance you have as $0 on the averages sheet (with the line below it as property tax for $273), but on the F1 sheet you have Home insurance as $273. The numbers should be the same from the sheets yes?

    • Lindsey
      March 22, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      Hi, are therr any products available in the UK that you’d recommend? Thanks.

  2. Alberto
    January 26, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Excellent. We will take a closer look at the spreadsheet. We have one one that does something similar in a form of a yearly spending plan then monthly then the rest…we do use a budget as the basis….will post my thoughts after the look.

    • The Mad Fientist
      January 26, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      I look forward to hearing your thoughts, Alberto.

  3. Dan
    January 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Firstly, thank you Mad Fientist for an excellent tool! I was considering creating something similar…you saved me quite some time.

    I have a suggestion for expediting the balance updates – a bit technical, but should be a breeze for spreadsheet enthusiasts.

    While Personal Capital is pretty awesome, I’ve found no simple way to export the account balances (if there is one, please let me know!) in order to auto-populate the balances in MF’s FI spreadsheet. Instead, I use Mint.

    Mint allows an account balance export via the Trends page, but it is automatically sorted from highest balances to lowest. No bueno if you want to paste into the FI workbook and have the balances automatically linked to the “Balances” tab. But, there’s a workaround…

    In Mint’s Overview tab, simply click and drag over the Accounts column to the left and highlight down through all of your accounts. Copy and paste these into a new sheet in the FI workbook, convert the text to a number format, and link up formulas as necessary. When it comes time to fill in the new month, copy and paste the locked formulas over to the new month’s column, then paste values over the old month (so the balances do not continue updating).

    Here’s a link to an example of what I did that shows the text conversion and an account order check: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1aNQdhFGJINwyqC58slPRkSXtmXkaO8b-4lLZKpKz8nk/edit?usp=sharing

    Hope this helps!

    • The Mad Fientist
      January 27, 2015 at 9:07 am

      Nice! I’ve just been manually copying everything from Personal Capital (haven’t looked to see if they have an export function) but your method looks like a good way to do it. I just wish Mint or Personal Capital had a public API so that I could write a program to do everything automatically :)

  4. Adam
    January 26, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Awesome, thanks for sharing! I have a spreadsheet that I have been using to track my spending for several years now, but I am always looking to improve it. I will definitely use some of the features on your spreadsheet.

    • The Mad Fientist
      January 27, 2015 at 9:09 am

      I think that’s how I built this one over the years…I just kept taking good ideas from other spreadsheets I found and tweaked things until I had exactly what I wanted.

  5. Badass by 41
    January 27, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I’ve been playing around with this spreadsheet and I really like your take on this kind of tool. I especially like the way you’ve broken out your spending on the ‘Averages’ tab.

    One thing I’m a little confused about though is why you’re calculating the savings rate the way you are (and I get that it’s ultimately an individual choice). The current calculation is based off of your net income after spending. This leaves out any contributions to HSA, 401k, or other pre-tax retirement vehicles. This is accounted for in the ‘Net Worth’ tab, but the ‘FI’ tab is missing these contributions.

    Can you share your rational for excluding these contributions?

    • The Mad Fientist
      April 2, 2015 at 8:56 am

      Actually, the “After Tax Salary” field should include those contributions. So if your employer pays you $5000 every month and contributes $150 to your 401(k) and you pay $1000 in taxes, spend $2000, and the rest goes to your 401(k), IRA, taxable account, etc, you should put $4150 in the “After Tax Salary” field ($5000 + $150 – $1000) and that will account for those retirement account contributions. Make sense?

  6. Seabiscuit
    January 30, 2015 at 2:43 am

    I’m having trouble getting the spreadsheet to work (the numbers won’t enter and the menu is mostly greyed out). Do I need to have Excel? (I have a spreadsheet program called Symphony). I want to get started using this thing :).
    Thanks.

    • The Mad Fientist
      April 2, 2015 at 9:12 am

      You could probably upload it to Google Docs and use it there if you don’t have software to open it on your computer.

  7. FloridaStache
    February 1, 2015 at 8:01 am

    I’m really looking forward to using this. Question- do you only track the most recent 2 months of spending/balances on this sheet or do you continue to create additional month columns as time goes on? From the formulae it looks like you would eventually get to a running year’s worth of data on the sheet and then start over, right?

    • The Mad Fientist
      April 2, 2015 at 9:15 am

      I just copy the columns for the additional months and then create a brand new sheet for the next year (although, you could just continue using the same sheet if you wanted to).

  8. Rob_from NewJersey
    March 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    MF – I found your blog in this order: MMM–>JLCollinsNH–>You. I pretty much read 90% of each website before going on to the next and I’m almost done reading all your posts as well. I’m really enjoying your podcasts on my commute to work…loving the “nerdy” intro song lol.

    Anyway, I’m almost done filling out your spread sheet with my info and I’m just curious if I should include 401k (auto-savings) in my “After-Tax” Salary? Or should I take my After-Tax pay and add back any automatic savings (401k, IRA)? Forgive me if this may seem like an obvious answer, I just wasn’t sure how all the formulas were taking into account the salary piece of this spreadsheet.

    Thanks for all your help!
    Rob

    • The Mad Fientist
      April 2, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Hi Rob, I’d say that’s probably how most people find me!

      Haha, glad you like my intro song. I still laugh every time I hear it :)

      Yes, you should include your retirement account contributions in your After-Tax Salary amount. The only thing that field shouldn’t contain is the money you paid in taxes.

      Let me know if you have any other questions and thanks for reading!

      • Rob_from NewJersey
        April 2, 2015 at 9:57 am

        Thanks for the clarification. One last question, should I be including my company match as well?

        It seems from a recent reply above that you do include the match. I’m assuming because After-tax Salary is used to calculate total savings rate?

        • The Mad Fientist
          April 2, 2015 at 10:05 am

          Yup, include that as well! It should be all the money you received (even if the money was invested directly) minus the taxes you paid.

  9. FIQuest
    March 1, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks a lot for the spreadsheet, it’s great!

    I have a couple of questions about it. I guess there are some assumptions built into it. For example, I think it assumes that if you leave your job and no longer collect a salary, your costs will continue to be the same. In reality, for a lot of people health insurance could increase, as well as other areas where your employer is pitching in. Is that right, and are there any other assumptions?

    Also, I assumed that if I was more conservative with the Inflation-Adjusted Growth Rate and set it to something less (like 3%) the time to FI would increase, but it decreased. Can you please explain that?

    Thanks again for this and your blog!

    • The Mad Fientist
      April 2, 2015 at 9:32 am

      Yes, your healthcare costs could increase but your other costs will likely decrease (commuting costs, clothing costs, etc.) so it’s probably a wash.

      If you decrease the growth rate, it should cause the time to FI to increase so are you sure you aren’t changing the withdrawal rate value instead? When I change the growth rate on the spreadsheet I have here, it works correctly so I’m not sure what’s going on with yours?

  10. TJ
    March 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Same question as above, it seems the withdrawal rate field and growth rate field may be backwards??? When you increase the withdrawal rate, the time to FI decreases when it should increase, when you increase the growth rate, the time to FI increases when it should decreases. This is obviously backwards.

  11. The Mad Fientist
    April 2, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Hi TJ,

    Lowering your withdrawal rate means you’ll have to build up a bigger balance to pay your bills so that will increase your time to FI.

    For example, if you have $30,000 worth of annual expenses and you plan to withdraw 4% from you portfolio to fund those expenses, you’d need to save up $750,000 ($750,000 * 4% = $30,000). If you instead decided to only withdraw 3% from your portfolio each year to fund those $30,000 worth of annual expenses, you’d have to wait until you had $1,000,000 before you could retire ($1,000,000 * 3% = $30,000).

    Your portfolio will have a greater likelihood of lasting longer with a lower withdrawal rate but it will take you longer to build up enough to retire.

    • FIQuest
      May 2, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Hi,

      Thanks. Decreasing the withdraw rate causing an increase in time to FI was counter-intuitive at first, but I think I get it now. By decreasing the withdraw rate, you’re basically moving the goalposts! But how come increasing the growth rate it increases the time to FI? (Note: The sheet actually says I reached FI, so the number is showing negative – ie “-0.66”. So for example when I increase the growth rate, it goes down to “-0.58”. Is that the reason?)

      Thanks for all your help!

      • The Mad Fientist
        May 3, 2015 at 10:58 am

        Hmm, that doesn’t happen with my copy of the spreadsheet. Maybe it’s just a case of not dealing with negative numbers properly? I probably should have put a minimum of 0, since negative time-to-FI numbers don’t make sense anyway.

    • skylar
      August 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      on that note, what’s a good number to shoot for.
      how do you determine FI, and when your investments tank? or if you take out ‘too much’ for an emergency? do you just go back to working to ‘get back to FI’ ?

  12. Dustyn
    May 1, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you for this! I put all my numbers in and modified it a bit to work better for me and was shocked to see it says just a little over 5 years until FI! However I’m a bit skeptical – I understand that my home equity is an asset, and that’s counted in net worth, but as long as I’m living in the house and am below the retirement age it’s really only my taxable accounts I get to draw on (before I set up some kind of Roth conversion ladder). I’d be more comfortable if I had a matching forecasting spreadsheet (maybe broken down annually) to plan out when to start the ladder, how much I would be able to draw from taxable accounts, when social security kicks in, etc. Do you have any such tool for yourself or have you seen any good ones – preferably in flexible spreadsheet form vs. the online calculators?

    Also, in your averages tab, I understand that After-Tax Salary is just that: gross income + employer match – taxes. So if we have other pre or post tax deductions from our pay check (medical/dental/vision/life insurance, commuting costs, FSA) you would count those under expenses? I see how that’s easy to do with insurance and transportation, but a bit trickier with FSA. I have a regular and a dependent care FSA but that money is not really an “expense” until the account gets charged. Does it make sense in that case to think of the FSA accounts in that case as additional check/savings accounts and to keep track of the balance on the balances tab?

    • The Mad Fientist
      May 2, 2015 at 10:54 am

      Sorry, I don’t have anything like that but the beauty of using a spreadsheet is that you can make it do whatever you want it to! If you do decide to make something like that and wouldn’t mind sharing, I’m sure others would find it useful as well.

      Yes, count all expenses (both pre- and post-tax) as expenses. As far as the FSA is concerned, I would treat that as spending because you either use it or you lose it so you’re guaranteed to spend that money during the year, whether you actually spend it on something useful or not.

    • kristin
      September 14, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      Dustyn, I am also looking for something where I can compare living off taxable accounts until the traditional retirement age. Did you make those tweaks or would you be willing to share how you changed the calculations?

  13. Rob_from NewJersey
    May 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    MF –
    I owed $2k in state and federal taxes this year. My wife and I are maxing out our 401k/403b this year to avoid that in the future. Quick question, should I add this my “necessary expenses” for April or would this already be accounted for in the balances tab (since it was automatically deducted from my checking account)?

    Thanks again!

    • The Mad Fientist
      May 2, 2015 at 10:58 am

      I’d probably just account for that amount in the After-Tax Salary field, so that it doesn’t screw up your After-Tax Savings Rate value too much.

  14. Tony
    July 1, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Thanks for this! I find it really useful. I’ve been using it for the last few months and updated it to as far back as I have history, and its working great. I’ve added a ‘budget’ column to the averages tab with a conditional format to see if my average is over my budget to see where I should be a bit more careful for a while. Also I added a conditional format to the ‘Years till FI’ column on the FI tab, which is a color scale, to help visually see what is costing me the most years.

    One question I have and am not sure of a good way to handle it is with a one time purchase of a large item. In my situation I bought a car back in Feb, with no monthly payment, but because of the way the formulas are written, the FI tab assumes that my average over the history will be my monthly payment forever. This is adding a significant amount of time to the forecast, which is not accurate. I think what would be ideal would be if there was a way in which to see how long a single large purchase would add to FI, which could be useful for determining whether to make a purchase or not. Any suggestions on how to do this would be really helpful.

    Thanks! and keep up the awesome work.
    -Tony

    • Tim
      February 4, 2016 at 1:07 am

      I had the same issue but I purchased the car a couple years back. What I did was amortize the cost of the car monthly over a 6 year period, even though I paid for it in one lump sum in cash 2 years ago I put about 100 dollars into the car expense category each month to account for my car cost. I’ll do the same when I purchase another car or large once every few years expense on an item I’ll use for many years but other than a car I can’t think of an item I’d do that with! Can you?

  15. Ian
    July 18, 2015 at 1:17 am

    My wife and I have pension accounts from our employers. Would those totals be placed on the investment tabs of the FI spreadsheet?

  16. Steve
    September 21, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I have been digging into the spreadsheet over the last few days, getting it setup for myself. I noticed that the FI page uses the annual savings number to calculate the time to FI, but that the annual savings number (C7) is based on the after-tax savings only. That would imply that the time til FI number isn’t considering 401k savings rates (or any other pre-tax savings, like HSA, etc). Am I missing something here?

  17. Jared Davis
    November 17, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Dear Mad Fientist,

    So happy I found you, actually I found you on the podcast Radical Personal Finance. So anyway I’m sadly a bit of a beginner on Excel, for all of this daily, monthly, and yearly tracking simply just copy and paste creating new columns and tabs correct? It’s just that easy, doing a copy/paste type of thing in Excel, is that what I’m supposed to do?

    Thank you so much and have a great day.

    Jared

  18. Travis
    January 3, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    I downloaded the spreadsheet today and spent the afternoon back-dating it for 2015. There’s a lot of number crunching going on in this thing! How do you account for one-off purchases and things that you actually spent money on, but realistically do not need to be amortized for FI calculations? For example, I bought a car and made a charitable donation this year that I probably won’t do again for a decade. Just delete them or put in some smaller amount to track that later expense?

  19. John Mc
    January 10, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Mad-Mad-Mad Fientist – Great looking calculator for FI and flexible for scenario planning! Like some of us, I have a Budget workbook and a Retirement workbook because I want to tailor inputs, outputs and graphs to my needs and your workbook does a good job of bringing those together, something I’ve had on my “to do” list for over a year now.

    I’m a little bit of an efficiency nut, so I was tracing the calculations looking for new tricks and perspective to improve my own workbooks.One calculation that seemed interesting was the “C2” cell in “FI” tab for “Starting Balance.” I like the use of the nested MATCH and INDEX function, but why not use the MAX function if you’re just searching for maximum value from that array? That’s what the positive exponential search value tells me. What am I missing?

    • Kalen
      January 28, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      Hi there,

      Can you explain this value to me in more detail? What is the “starting balance” calculating? Currently, my spreadsheet is showing $0 for this cell. Shouldn’t this be pulling from my Net Worth sheet?

      • Leigh
        April 18, 2017 at 6:36 pm

        Is there an answer to Kalen’s question on 1/28? I’m also getting a $0 value for ‘Starting Balance’ in cell C2 of the FI tab.

      • Amanda
        April 22, 2017 at 8:19 pm

        I’m having the same issue with the “Starting Balance” showing $0. Am I doing something wrong?

        • Katy
          June 8, 2017 at 9:10 pm

          I had the same issue w/getting a $0 in the starting balance until Kenny’s comment below helped me see my error. Basically, since it is pulling the most recent net worth balance, if you’ve pulled your formulas over to a new month w/no data and have a zero in your net worth row, the Starting Balance will pull over the zero balance. So just make sure you don’t pull the formulas over on the net worth tab until you update all your averages for the month.

    • Kenny
      May 1, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Since your net worth can move up or down, you wouldn’t simply want the MAX value… you want your most recent entry (anything but the most recent entry is just history). With the current formula, it will pick up the right-most entry in the row (therefore, this requires new month entries be added to right of the last entry). Hope that helps.

  20. Kate
    January 11, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    How would you account for a final salary pension? I’m incredibly lucky to contribute to a defined benefit pension but am unsure how to account for it in terms of future planning. Would you simply calculate the equivalent investment value required to provide the same level of income?

  21. Damien
    February 3, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Hey,

    I am working on setting up my spreadsheet. Where would 529 accounts fall under?

    Thanks

    Damien

  22. SwordGuy
    February 10, 2016 at 12:24 am

    I just looked over the spreadsheet. There’s some good work in it!

    However, I noticed some bad math on the Averages tab.

    Average Necessary Coverage, Discretionary Coverage and Total Coverage are calculated by averaging the percentage of each month’s money in their respective category.

    That’s bad juju. I do not believe that the average of a percentage has any valid meaning whatsoever. You need to calculate the overall percentages by using the same formula you use for monthly percentages, except you need to fill in total dollars instead of monthly dollars. That will give you a valid number.

    • The Mad Fientist
      February 10, 2016 at 4:22 am

      Good catch!

      My personal spreadsheet calculates it correctly so I must have just got a bit copy/paste happy when I was putting together this version or something.

      It’s all fixed now though so thanks for letting me know!

  23. John
    March 7, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Hi,

    I was wondering about the “averages” tab specifically, and how you incorporate 401k and traditional IRA contributions. I’m currently maxing out my 401k, which is a big part of my income that I never see on paychecks. How does that factor in to “after tax salary”? It’s showing me that I have a 27% average savings rate, but I really think it’s much higher because of my 401k contributions if that makes sense.

    Thanks,
    John

    • April 3, 2016 at 11:09 am

      In earlier comments he suggests you add those contributions to the After-Tax salary, but this does seem a little off since 401k contributions are Pre-tax income, not Post-tax. Unless his calculations are somehow considering that?

      I love this spreadsheet but that’s the only thing that confuses me about it.

      • Dan
        April 21, 2016 at 3:58 am

        No need for confusion both John and Jonathon — Just take your monthly gross pay shown on your paystub MINUS that month’s taxes shown on your paystub, and then ADD in all company’s matches/benefits (if any: such as 401k match, HSAs match, pensions, etc). Total will be your “after-tax” income — let’s assume that is $10,000.

        Gross Income +$10000
        Total Taxes Payment -$3500
        Benefits/Matches +$500
        Total “after-tax” income equals $7000

        Let’s assume total monthly’s expense is $3500

        After tax income – monthly’s expense/after-tax income = Your Saving’s Rate.
        ($7,000-$3,500)/$7,000 = 50%

        • April 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm

          Hey Dan, thanks for the suggestion. Makes sense!

  24. Tom
    March 24, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Since many of us will not have the same account structure as you have presented in the excel document I think it could be helpful to include an additional sheet that contains categories. These categories would be filled in with all accounts that a user of the spreadsheet might have. These categories would be used throughout the spreadsheet but for instance, on the Balances sheet, you would have a drop down selected for Checking 1, Checking 2, and so on. This way on the Investments side you can select the appropriate drop down and it will grab the correct value from the Balances sheet. Otherwise you’re chasing your tail trying to get the accounts to lineup correctly.

  25. April 21, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I currently do not have a home, or a mortgage, however we’re planning on purchasing a home, and taking on a mortgage, in the near future. I’m wondering if there’s any way to forecast how a future home purchase may affect my FI number.

  26. Paul
    August 18, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    My wife and I have about $60K of student loans. How should we add those into the spreadsheet?

    Thanks!

  27. ST
    August 19, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is inspiring. My husband & I have a similar spreadsheet (Not as detailed and awesome thou). However, we find it so hard to stick to the plan and not overspend. Do you have any suggestions regarding that?
    Thanks again!
    ST

  28. Jay
    August 19, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Hello,
    I really love this spreadsheet. I put some dummy number to understand this. At finally on FI tab, under “year till FI” I get some zeros and others negative numbers like -0.12. Also just above the “year till FI”, it is also negative number, -7.51. what is the mean of this negative number?
    Thanks,

  29. Scott
    August 19, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I created a similar spreadsheet to track my assets, savings, net worth etc to help me calculate my future finances. I downloaded your program to see how you accounted for inflation. I’ve haven’t gone through it in detail, but didn’t see anything that would address how expenses would rise with inflation. Just curious about your thoughts on this.

  30. DD
    August 19, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Thanks. I look forward to applying your spreadsheet to my own situation.
    Thought you would be interested to also know about : http://www.goalgami.com/content/index.php if you are not aware of it. A similar approach was developed earlier than goalgami and is found here: https://lifespreadsheet.wordpress.com/ (look for the comment about ver 1.1 in order to download the spreadsheet. I am curious to know your thoughts about these life planning approaches.

  31. Ron
    August 20, 2016 at 10:33 am

    I just discovered your tool and it is a great improvement over the spreadsheet I’ve been using…Thank you! I have a question regarding the Investments tab. Are you manually “data mining” your monthly/quarterly account statements to determine the taxable, tax-deferred and tax-free amounts? For instance, I have a ROTH IRA where the contributions would be considered tax-free, but the earnings on those contributions would be tax-deferred. The only way I can see to determine each amount would be to look at my statement and manually input the amounts.

  32. karoundtheworld
    August 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Just a quick note to say thank you for sharing this! So grateful for your generosity.

  33. Fn
    August 24, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    This is such a timely and excellent find for me! I’ve been planning for our (semi) retirement (more appropo term is “Financial Independence”) and I’ve (just) started something similar. I can’t wait to start calibrating and incorporating to what I currently have as I apply to our personal situation (would be happy to share how/what the end product when I’m done). Thank you so much for sharing, and thank you all folks for all your input.

  34. YoggerMan
    August 28, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Well, it’s an interesting tool and one that is somewhat similar to something that I put together some years ago. However, I’m still not sure what you mean by “retire early”. Do you mean, forever? You’re a young guy – will your savings keep you above water, for say, another sixty years or so? Even with meticulous record keeping and analysis, I know that I wouldn’t be able to just walk away from a job-related income for some years, and that’s with around a 50% savings rate right now. Unless my wife and I agree to move into an abandoned box car on public land…..

  35. Laura
    September 6, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Hi MF – thanks for the worksheet. I’m wondering how to calculate an expense like college for 2 kids. It’s something I have been saving for, but I don’t want it to factor into our FI date. Should I just leave the amounts off this worksheet altogether? Or is there a way to calculate within the framework? Thoughts?

  36. James
    September 30, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Hi,

    I could help but notice from your podcasts on youtube that you are UK based?

    Can I ask if you have a UK version of this? I know I could just change $ to £ but you might think other changes might make it more relevant to UK followers?

    I use Moneydashboard to log my spend/income, am not sure if Mint/Personal Capital have a UK version?

    Cheers,

    James

    • Roger
      October 4, 2016 at 4:13 am

      Hi,

      Personal Capital or Mint.com does not support the country where I currently reside. So I am not able to automate the information for better analysis. I like your spreadsheet very much as it provides more analytical data picture for financial independence.

  37. Mei
    October 9, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Oh my! Thank you so much. It’s a great spreadsheet and is easy to follow and customize. I especially love the itemized “Years till FI” column… I will happily work longer to support my vacation spending, but will be conscious in cutting my restaurant bills. It’s a real eye opener. Thank you!!

  38. Adastra
    October 29, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Awesome spreadsheet! I just finished filling it out and have to say, I was surprised by the results once everything was out in the open. I do have a quick comment and two questions though.

    When I first filled out the spreadsheet, even though my total savings rate was positive, my average savings rate was something like -28%. Additionally, I noticed some amounts in the FI tab were extremely large. After going through the spreadsheet, I found what was causing the wacky numbers and just thought I’d share it in case anyone else runs into it.

    For things like property tax, car insurance, home insurance, etc., these are amounts you might pay only twice a month, depending on how you have them set up (same goes for any purchases that you don’t make on a monthly basis). Because of this, you will only see these expenses show up twice in your Averages tab. However, the “AVERAGE” function in excel calculates the average of these amounts based on the number of times they appear in the row. So if you have a $6,000 property tax bill, and you pay it in two installments, it shows up as a $3,000 monthly payment. Your FI amount will then be calculated assuming that you will have to pay that every month, and you will quickly lose any will to continue saving for early retirement.

    That being said, there are two ways to fix this. One, calculate what the monthly cost of these expenses would be and enter those in the monthly columns. Two, change the formula in the Average column from =Average(F4:Q4) to =SUM(F4:Q4)/12. I personally think the second option is easier so that’s what I recommend. Hope this helps!

    Okay, on to my questions. Am I correct in assuming that the FI tab currently things that you will have to pay your mortgage payment all through retirement and doesn’t take into account that it will eventually be paid off? If so, anyone know how to address this to get a more correct estimate of your FI number?

    Secondly, in the first quarter of year we throw money into our personal IRAs. Should this amount be added to our after-tax salary in the month the contribution is made? Or since this is coming from savings we’ve accrued through prior years, should it already be accounted for?

    • SwordGuy
      October 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      “Okay, on to my questions. Am I correct in assuming that the FI tab currently things that you will have to pay your mortgage payment all through retirement and doesn’t take into account that it will eventually be paid off? If so, anyone know how to address this to get a more correct estimate of your FI number?”

      I haven’t checked out the spreadsheet on this, but here’s one way to do it .

      Calculate what you will owe on the debt on your FI date. If you are using the 4% rule, you need 25 times your annual expenses invested, plus the cash to pay off the debt in a lump sum. Alternatively, you need 25 times expenses, plus an amount invested that will be consumed in the process of paying off the debt at the mortgage rate. The second alternative requires, I think, a lot more money saved up at any likely rate of return.

    • Lesley
      May 7, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      Wanted to thanks the Mad Fientist for putting out his spreadsheet for us all to use. We should put him forward for a civic award for doing this.

      I had a few things that I’d like to tweak to make work for my situation, the main ones were:
      1. high expenses that won’t be there when we retire eg putting out kids through college. I think I’m going to put in some negative calculations on the FI tab so the end amount, and years to retirement isn’t distorted by those college expenses.
      2. I took only the difference between our current house and our retirement house to include in our net worth. We plan to downsize.
      3. Our income is distorted by yearly bonuses. So what I’m going to do is plug in my month by month budgetted expenses (I do this on my yearly budget spreadsheet) so there are twelve month’s expenses in from the start in the averages sheet. As the actuals come through month by month (off quicken) I’ll update those in the monthly columns. So I’ll end up with a forecast average expenses made up of YTD actuals + budgetted amounts. Alternatively I could spread the one off wage bonus over the whole year in monthly amounts.
      4. I’m going to formulate a retirement expense budget and run this through the spreadsheet and have it as a second scenario. I anticipate our retirement expenses to be much lower than what we spend now.
      I’m not sure how this will all work out. About to try it out this week. Thanks again for the work done. Much appreciated. From someone from down under in New Zealand reading your blog!

  39. Travis
    October 30, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Couple questions on keeping this thing properly updated. 1) Is it meant to keep a running tally indefinitely or broken down by year? I ask because at the end of sheet I get lifetime averages for expenses (which I need), but it thinks my salary is the sum of every month I have on the spreadsheet. Does it really matter for FI calculation? 2) Every month I have to manually tell each cell with a formula in it to update the equation for the new column. How do I make it so the formula automatically includes the new column?

  40. Rosie
    November 8, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Hi, please could you explain the withdrawal rate to me. I don’t really understand how I am supposed to calculate this – is this effectively [100 / (life expectancy – retirement or FI age)]? If I change the withdrawal rate by a single %, it has a huge impact on my final FI figure, so I want to ensure I get it right and fully understand what it means etc. Thanks

    • Greenvestor
      January 14, 2017 at 12:41 am

      Withdrawal rate is the percentage of the portfolio you expect to withdraw every year to meet your expenses. It determines the amount you need in your portfolio before you can be FI. Increasing the rate will increase the amount you need in your portfolio before you can be FI.

      • Greenvestor
        January 14, 2017 at 12:46 am

        In my previous reply, the last line should read – Increasing the withdrawal rate will *reduce* the amount you need in your portfolio before you can be FI. However since you are taking out a larger amount each year you run the risk of your portfolio getting depleted too soon. See the post on Safe Withdrawal Rate (http://www.madfientist.com/safe-withdrawal-rate/)

  41. November 17, 2016 at 6:56 am

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s always interesting how others draw their financial situation.

  42. Teddy
    December 1, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Brandon,

    I tried to download the spreadsheet over the couple of days and get an error, which varies by browser, but from chrome:

    “The webpage at (intentionally removed URL) might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.”

    I’ll keep trying, but wanted to give you a heads-up that something got broken along the way recently. I look forward to checking out your spreadsheet and comparing it to my own.

    Thanks for all your good posts and podcasts!

  43. Greenvestor
    January 14, 2017 at 1:02 am

    I recently came across this site and am very excited to read the clear explanations in the posts. Thank you for the effort in providing this.

    I have just started creating the spreadsheet and have a question: In the spreadsheet how should one account for mortgage on a rental property? I do include it in the “Balances” tab as an extra line in the “Mortgage” and “House” sections so it is part of the Net Worth calculations.

    For the “Averages” tab I can think of 2 ways:

    1) a) Do not include the mortgage payment in expenses section
    b) Do not include rental property expenses (such as property tax, insurance etc) in the expenses sections.
    c) Include only the net income in the “Supplemental Income” row. Net Income is Rent – Mortgage Payment – Operational expenses

    2) Treat it just like the primary residence. i.e:
    a) Include the rental mortgage in the mortgage expense line
    b) Include all the other expenses such as property tax, insurance, maintenance etc in appropriate expenses categories
    c) Enter the entire rent amount (that the tenant pays) in the “Supplemental Income” row.

    Any pros or cons of either approach? What do most people do?

    Thanks

  44. chris
    January 27, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    I’m going through this and a lot of the slots are left blank because my work pays for them. This is one of my fears of early retirement is that i’m going to have to pay for a lot more things, insurance, dental, phone, food ect. Do you have any suggestions on how to better factor these things into my fi. It’s almost like there needs to be another tab that fills in your new lack of sallary + the things you’ll have to pay for when you leave your job

  45. chris
    January 31, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Could you add another section on how to add items to the list without breaking it. In the averages i added more categories for tools, project supplies, business ect and notice they don’t show up in the fi tab. Also in editing the names of some of your balances for instance i use vanguard 401k not fidelity and don’t have some of the things listed. It would be pretty helpful if you walked through this document and showed your process of filling it out, pulling from mint ect

  46. Cindy
    March 3, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Thanks for the spreadsheet — it’s really helpful! I have a couple of questions/suggestions:
    1. I see that home equity is being treated as an asset. While I know that it technically is, isn’t it an asset of a different nature? If you remove that money while you still live in the house, it comes out in the form of a loan that has to be paid back (with interest!), turning it into a liability. Even if you sell the house, you probably need that money to buy a new one. So, should people really count that as an asset, and one that’s making X percent in inflation-adjusted growth, like the other assets?

    2. Doesn’t asset distribution matter quite a bit in your ability to be FI? And yet I don’t ever see information on this topic. For example, you find you need $700,000 to generate the 4% withdrawal that will cover your expenses. If all of your assets are in After Retirement Age accounts, you can’t be FI until after the age of 59.5 without serious penalties and taxes, right? Alternately, if all of your assets are in Before Retirement Age, you could retire any time without problem. These are the two extremes, but the middle is where most folks are. So is there a rule of thumb for what the mix needs to be at a minimum to be FI so you don’t run out of the Before pile before you can tap the After one? I see that you put Before and After Retirement totals in the spreadsheet, but are those being put to use in the FI calculations, or could they be? I’m assuming that would also require taking into account the person’s age.

    Thanks again!

    • Tom
      July 18, 2017 at 5:43 am

      I have the same question about housing. The cost of the mortgage is already accounted for but once the mortgage is paid off no income is generated and there’s no way to withdraw value without selling up (and then where would you live!?)

  47. Kevin Douglas
    March 23, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    What a great problem to Have!
    We are ready to retire and are attempting to determine the optimal funding sequence for retirement.

    My wife and I are very close to FI! We should be able to retire in 2018. I am 59 and my wife is 53. We have looked at SS optimization and believe it would be best to start SS at 67, for each of us.

    My question is once we retire, is there a planning tool, to help us, optimally, fund our retirement? Given that we have varying amounts of 1) After Tax Dollars, 2) Tax Deferred (IRA), 3) Tax Exempt (Roth) & 4) Social Security Benefits available. The majority of our funds are Tax Deferred.

    We have also considered a series of ladder conversions from IRA to Roth.

    The last thing, I’ve considered, but am not sure if its allowed, is to use the majority of funds from the sale of our house (we intend to travel for 2 years) to fund an IRA (Non-Deductible, as the funds from the sale, would be tax free). I believe, but am not sure, if we could then convert all of the non-deductible IRA into a Roth- without any tax, whatsoever.

    Thanks for everything your doing!

  48. Eddie
    April 1, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    Thanks a lot for the spreadsheet, it saves me a lot of time from creating one. I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. I even did my own spreadsheet but not as complete and thorough like this one. I have one question, I am expecting a pension when I retire early, where do you include that pension? Thanks again.

  49. Rachael Maher
    April 23, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Brandon! Thanks so much for creating this! I’m finally taking a mini-Mustachian leap and this spreadsheets is one of the tools I’m using. I’m quite bad at spreadsheets so I’m sorry if this is a dumdum question but….1. Where would I put student loans and 2. How can I add to the credit card category (don’t worry, I don’t carry balances, but do have a few for maximum point potential). Thanks!

  50. Michael
    May 1, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Question on the amount that is Withdrawable Tax Free from the HSA. Would it be a valid step to link that to an accumulating line item in the Averages tab, earmarked for Medical expenses?
    I think that would be a worthwhile usage of that line, and would force me to track the amount withdrawable from my HSA without thinking about it (although I’ll need to have my receipts and proof I didn’t get reimbursed anyway, so I am likely to know what amount is withdrawable).

    Thanks

  51. Harrison Delfino
    May 1, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    I use MarketXLS for this and it’s great.

  52. Lesley
    May 5, 2017 at 2:29 am

    Many thanks for sharing this spreadsheet with us all. Now I know what you mean by Mad Fientist. Luckily I’ve been tracking our household expenses for the last 20 years on quicken! Some of those formulas you have on the FI sheet I would not have been able to come up with!! I need to read through all the valuable comments here and also to formulate a retirement expense budget as our living expenses are too high, mainly from just spending what we earn. Sadly! I love that you have quantified the required savings by expense category so you can really see what you are going to have to save to cover that level of cost.

    I’m going to do the spreadsheet again using our projected retirement living expenses as we should be able to pull back on the excessive lifestyle we have at the moment. It’s going to be a glorious weekend but I don’t think I’ll be able to keep myself away from the spreadsheeting. Thanks again. I trained as an accountant but I couldn’t have come up with what you’ve shared with us.

  53. maxmilion
    June 1, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Im having trouble altering some of these spots. Is there any way to contact you for more information on how to understand this form fully?

  54. Buddha
    June 6, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Hi all, how good is this spreadsheet! Thanks Brandon for putting it together and sharing it.

    I was wondering if anyone could help me with two questions. The first is around the widthdrawal rate.

    Why is it that when we increase the withdrawal rate, the FI year decreases? I would have thought if you were pulling more on an annual basis out of your portfolio that you would need more in it to sustain retirement?

    Also, if surplus income is placed into investments, should this not be put in the averages sheet? So if I’m putting $1200 a month into shares, that’s not an expense, so I am presuming we leave that out of the averages sheet?

    Thanks again!

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